Opinion: Facts About the City Clerk’s Office

Lisette Chel-Walker

Hello everyone, my name is Lisette Chel-Walker, and I am your current City Clerk. Most of you already know me or have had interactions with the City Clerk’s office. Over the last couple of months, I have read articles, letters to the editor, and have heard statements made by a City Clerk candidate that are simply not true. As City Clerk, I feel it is my duty to present the true facts to the voters of Laguna Beach.

I pride myself on total transparency in my interactions with anyone seeking service from my office. I have been available seven days a week and responded at all hours equally to all groups and people. The City Clerk’s office has always been transparent, independent, and responsible to the community. The City Clerk’s office is a process-oriented department and ensures that the decision-making of the City Council is always available to the public; complies with federal, state, and local regulations; and properly records all official documents. The City Council sets policy and is the voice of the people, not the City Clerk.

The City Clerk must be a team-player and be able to work with everyone in City Hall, in order to be productive and to obtain information requested by the public as quickly as possible. I have earned the respect of City employees, management, the City Attorney, the City Council, and the residents my office serves. Exemplary customer service has always been my focus. In order to obtain transparency, you must work together; it is not “them against me.”

As has been incorrectly claimed, the City Manager’s Executive Assistant, Mariann Tracy, was not hand-picked for my position. More than a year ago, my Deputy City Clerk had to take time off for a medical reason and I was working around the clock to maintain the standard of service on which my department prides itself. Mariann Tracy graciously offered to help me on her own time, and I eagerly accepted her offer. She worked after hours and weekends, and helped me with council meetings, election notebooks, agendas, minutes, and helped maintain my office. She really enjoyed the nature of the work and the time she volunteered to assist me prompted an interest in the position of City Clerk and gave her vital experience for the job that few, if any, candidates could match.

It is also a false statement that the City Manager wants to control the City Clerk or the Clerk’s office. The City Manager has never interfered or controlled me or my office. The City Manager has only shown respect and support. The City Clerk position is a technical position that requires specific municipal training. The position also demands professional qualifications and experience, requiring technical skills and specialized knowledge of election laws, conflict of interest, records management, public records requirements, and involves an array of ministerial duties. Mariann Tracy has learned most of these duties and responsibilities, and she has been working hard to complete over 20 approved City Clerk courses through the International Institute of Municipal Clerks required for Municipal Clerk certification.

I take many of the falsehoods implied about my position and my office very personally as I have lived and loved my 37-year career with the City. Please do your homework and select the best, most qualified candidate with the requisite training to follow in my footsteps and take over my office. I proudly endorse Mariann Tracy because I have witnessed her customer service skills first-hand and I know that she is fully capable of excelling in the position of City Clerk.

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